This Money/Parcel Mule Knowingly Participated With Nigerian Scammers!
Trenice Hassel, 28, Plead Guilty To Making False Statements To A Federal Agency
In her role as a Mule, she persuaded another woman to open a post office box in Berkeley, Missouri, knowing it would be used for illegal activity. She and the other woman lied to postal officials about who would be using the box.
This is according to the United States Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Missouri
The St. Louis County woman pleaded guilty for her role in a Nigerian romance scam.
Hassel appeared, on March 3rd, before United States District Court Judge Sarah E. Pitlyk.
On April 8, 2020, the United States Postal Inspection Service learned of a Romance Scam operating through the use of Post Office Box 34096 in Berkley, Missouri. The post office box account had been opened fraudulently by Hassel and B.M. using B.M’s name and identification number. Through the subsequent investigation, inspectors learned the scam had been operating since early 2019.
Hassel admitted that a co-defendant offered her $100 if she could find someone who would open a post office box for him in that person’s name. Consequently, Hassel asked B.M. to open the post office box using B.M.’s name and identification because she knew B.M. would not question why she was being asked to open a post office box.
On January 8, 2020, Hassel and B.M. entered the Berkeley post office where they completed PS Form 1093, titled “Application for Post Office Box Service.” Hassel and B.M. made a material misrepresentation to the United States Postal Service by falsely claiming the post office box was being sought for B.M.’s residential and personal use, and that B.M. and Hassel were the only people authorized to pick up mail delivered to the rented post office box.
At the time B.M. and Hassel submitted the false and fraudulent application, Hassel knew neither she nor B.M. would use the post office box for their use, but instead, the co-defendant would possess and control access to the rented post office box in connection with some type of illegal activity, the exact nature of which Hassel was unaware (she claimed).
Hassell further admitted that after the representative for the United States Postal Service accepted B.M.’s application, B.M. was assigned Post Office Box 34096 and was provided with two keys for the post office box. When Hassel and B.M. exited the post office, they gave both keys to the co-defendant who paid the two women for fraudulently opening the post office box.
Between January 8, 2020, and June 4, 2020, the co-defendant collected and attempted to collect, express mail delivered through the United States Postal Service from dozens of women who were deceived into mailing the proceeds of a Nigerian romance scam to fraudulently opened Post Office Box 34096 because they believed the money was being sent to B.M. who was employed as either a diplomat’s secretary or as a realtor.
The United States Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorney Tracy Berry is handling the case.
When Hassel was indicted in September, investigators said at least 40 women lost more than $500,000 in cash and electronics.
Ovuoke Frank Ofikoro and Bonmene Sibe are accused of sending part of the money to Nigeria. Both have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial
Prosecutors said the suspects pretended to be high-ranking military officers deployed overseas and expressed romantic interest in women ranging in age from 45 to 82.
If You Or Someone You Know Sent Money To These People
If you send any money or items to these people, you should contact Venton Blandin at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, firstname.lastname@example.org 314-539-6805 to complete a victims’ impact statement or provide further evidence against the two defendants.